"To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad."
- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
40 years ago, technology pioneers Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed a BASIC program for the Altair 8800 computer, NASA launched the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars, Bruce Springsteen released his third album, "Born To Run", director Steven Spielberg's thriller "Jaws" was number one at the box office and Saturday Night Live debuted on NBC. Turning "40" never looked so "marvelous".
Most of us have grown up along side the celebrity cast changes, the memorable catchphrases, the personal tragedies and the comic triumphs as each week SNL capped off a purely entertaining week in review for the American public. Many of us have our favorite sketches, characters and spin-off movies as we may enjoy the present shows and bask in the nostalgia of years past.
If you think about the sheer amount of raw talent SNL has developed it's impossible to deny its been a real laugh factory, churning out star after star. From Gilda Radner to Chevy Chase and Tina Fey to Jimmy Fallon, the list of writers, comedians, actors, musicians and entertainers who launched careers on the SNL stage is note worthy and truly amazing.
Executive producer and creator, Lorne Michaels told The Hollywood Reporter when asked about the 40th anniversary special:
"The rules we used were these: Every host was invited. Every musical guest was invited. Any cast member and writer who had been here longer than a year was invited. Not everybody is going to come. The other rule we used, which was just the simplest way to go, was if people sent back their RSVP, they were in the mix of people we could write for. On the 25th anniversary — which turned out remarkably well and was the first time I thought, "I could stop now and be good" — we did mostly live moments with tape and clips. This time, we have some of that, but we're doing more performances."
The 40th Anniversary celebration begins at 8PM EST, Sunday, February 15th.